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Project aims to put Granite Tors boardwalk empire on firm ground

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Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012 12:11 am

FAIRBANKS — If you plan to hike the Granite Tors Trail this weekend, don’t go empty handed.

I’m glad to report on the efforts of Ivan Voronin, a 17-year-old Boy Scout who is leading a campaign to fix or replace boards that have broken or sunken into the mud at the start and end of the trail.

If you plan to hit the trail, please consider carrying a board for Voronin.

If you would like to give him a hand, he will be with a crew most of Saturday and Sunday moving and installing boards on sections where wood work is needed.

Voronin, a member of Troop 92, is leading this campaign as part of the work to become an Eagle Scout.

He said he could use a few more volunteers who are asked to come with bug dope, a hammer, a saw, work gloves and maybe a tent and mess kit for those who want to spend the night.

He said there are about 100 more boards that have to be carried out and installed on the trail.

Voronin, who will be a senior at West Valley High School in the fall, has been working getting supplies and the necessary approvals on this for a long time. He is the son of Raymond Billings and Holly Billings and they are residents of the Goldstream Valley.

If you can give him a hand for just a few hours to improve the Granite Tors trail, call 978-4073.


TROOP TRAILER: Elsewhere on the scout scene, Boy Scout Troop 78 is trying to buy a gear trailer.

To get their cause rolling, the scouts will have Alaska Goldpanner baseball tickets available Saturday at Play It Again Sports from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The tickets, provided by Chena Kiwanis, the charter organization for the troop, will admit one family to a baseball game. The suggested donation is $10, said troop volunteer Robyn Capp.

The store is also holding a sale to help the troop, with a 20 percent discount on the regular price of baseball and softball items Saturday. Ten percent of those proceeds will go to the troop.


GARDEN PARTY: Andrew Shill, 15, is coordinating a project to build a new courtyard at the Georgeson Botanical Garden for an Eagle project. He is the son of Annie and James Shill.


LOOKING FOR LOVE: Two single women reporters at the Washington Post recycled an ancient idea for a newspaper story and flew to Alaska to look for love in a land with more men than women.

They stopped in Kodiak, Homer, Anchorage, Wasilla and Willow on their four-day anthropology expedition last winter.

While neither one found find Mr. Right, they encountered a bachelor with whale teeth around his neck, another with a wolf-fang necklace, lots of beards and more tattoos than they could count, concluding that “showing tats is apparently the Alaska equivalent of a Washington man handing a woman his business card.”

On their trip, which they wrote about in a story published this week on the Post website, they learned that everyone in Alaska is in a reality TV show and they heard the Alaska refrain of the lovelorn — “the odds are good, but the goods are odd.”

Former KUAC reporter Libby Casey, now a reporter in Washington for C-SPAN, had advised them that men in Alaska are practical: “In Alaska, men value women differently: If you can wield a chain saw, if you can buck wood, if you can catch a fish. A guy’s not going to date you because you look cute; a guy’s going to date you because you have skills.”

The looking-for-love in Alaska newspaper story is always a good enough gag to get out of the office, though the chances of striking gold were not in their favor.

When they talked with a table of women in a Homer bar about comparing Washington, D.C., men to those in Alaska, they heard this about the odds and the goods: “Do the men in Washington have jobs?” asks Nancy Deaver, 44, a restaurateur. “Do they have vehicles? Do they even have teeth?”

Having failed to find romance, Annie Gowen and Tara Bahrampour reflected on their mission:

“In four short days (and long nights), we have gotten stuck in snowdrifts, watched fishermen haul in tons of cod, tramped in dog-sled tracks, and photographed bald eagles. We’ve met a banjomaker and a snowboard guide and a smoke jumper and an oilman and two moose hunters and legions of fishermen.

“In some ways, they are the same as Washington men, or men anywhere: They like their toys, they like their drink, they pursue their ambitions. And yet, there are also real differences. Many of the men we have met came to Alaska to get away from something — a string of bad marriages, a stint in jail, a drug problem — and, unlike Washington men, they are not into image control. They are upfront about their flaws and vulnerabilities — which can be both off-putting and wonderfully refreshing.”

Dermot Cole can be reached at or


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